Wednesday, March 04, 2009

a completely self-centered biscotti-inspired kitchen rant

Tonight I had one of the most frustrating nights in the kitchen I've had in a long time. I am someone who chronically overbooks all of my time (Sure, I can meet you for coffee after I have brunch with Z and tea with F and play two rehearsals! No problem!), and the kitchen is not an exception to that rule although in here it's more often accidental. I can look at a recipe and think I can bang that sucker out in forty-five minutes, and three hours later I'm sweaty and exhausted and not even hungry anymore. And tonight is so one of those nights.
The plan was to make spaghetti squash, which requires a minimum prep time (maybe, maybe ten minutes all told) and, while that was baking (30-45 minutes), to mix up the batter for these delicious-sounding parmesan black pepper biscotti that I wanted to take to dal niente's wine tasting fundraiser on Saturday. When the squash came out, I said to myself, I would set it aside, roll out the biscotti dough, tuck it into the oven, and eat dinner while the biscotti went through it's first bake.
The first problem: heat. It was warm today, in the forties, and whenever it gets warm outside my apartment becomes a furnace because my landlords not only don't turn the heat down, they seem to crank it up. (I shouldn't complain, I know, but at this point my oven has been on for more than three hours and I smell like a college locker room.) The second problem: space. I don't know if I've ever described my kitchen, but it's... tiny. My major appliances (stove and refrigerator) are both roughly three-quarters size, and I have a patch of counter space that is maybe 12x18. This means that a) anything requiring more than one bowl or pan or anything ends with me balancing the extras on the fridge or my desk or my dresser or etc., and b) I have small baking sheets, because nothing else will fit in my tiny damn stove.
So the squash went okay, and I got the dough mixed together, but I was realizing that this was going to take longer than I'd hoped. I already knew that the stove was going to be on for a long time (biscotti have to bake 65-75 minutes at around 300 degrees), and that I was going to have to spend some time slicing the loaves into biscotti-shaped lengths before the second bake. I was irritated, but resigned. But when I started slicing the biscotti, I realized something: a loaf of dough takes up much less space than that same dough sliced into lengths and placed, cut side down, back on the (remember: tiny) baking sheet. It was a struggle to get all of the pieces back onto the sheets, but I didn't lose my temper until the sheets were back in the oven and I looked at the recipe again and read these words: "Bake, turning over once, until golden and crisp, 35 to 45 minutes total." (My emphasis.)
"Turn over? Fuck!" is approximately what I said. Turn over those puzzle-piece biscotti pieces, now heated to 300 degrees, and re-fit them back into their also-300-degree pans? This is where I made myself a half-assed homemade whiskey sour using lemon juice, sugar and water (and whiskey, of course). And it was when I burned myself (thank god, for the first and only time) that I started whimpering, "Nightmare recipe..."
But really, now that I'm done it wasn't that bad, and now that I've written it all out I can laugh a little bit. I just turned the oven off, and I have two sheets packed full of--judging from my initial tastes at the halfway point--fairly yummy biscotti. At least I ended up with something decent. I don't even usually like biscotti that much (a cookie so hard you can't eat it alone is something I don't understand), but I'm a sucker for recipes that flip taste expectations. I don't know if I'll make these again, but... Now I know? What a shitty moral. Fucking biscotti.


Rosiecat said...

Oh, my, Ammie, what a night! You are so ambitious in the kitchen. I'm such a lazy, lazy person (seriously: LAZY!) and yet I write a cooking blog? WTF?!?

At least your biscotti story has a happy ending: yummy savory biscotti!

I tend not to like hard cookies either...the word "crunchy" kinda makes me shudder when it comes to cookies. That's one of the reasons I love vegan cookies: they tend more toward the soft-chewy end of the spectrum than the hard-crunchy end. Thank goodness for vegans and their delicious cookies!

ammie said...

Oh Rose-Anne, I think you will love my vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe! They are soft and delicious. I made a mini version (so cute!!!) of them tonight for the same wine tasting, and I'll have to give you one when I see you on Saturday!
And last night I was disappointed with the biscotti because all I could taste was pepper, but I just tried one now and it was actually pretty good. Not as hard as the average biscotti (I ate this one without the benefit of a glass of wine or bowl of soup), and kind of almost... biscuity? Good, anyway. I don't know if I'd make them again and I'd DEFINITELY halve the recipe, but they are yummy.

erica said...

damn...and i feel all proud of myself when i don't burn my toast...